810.20 Defense/528/16

The Minister in Guatemala (Des Portes) to the Secretary of State
No. 1286

Sir: With reference to the Department’s telegram no. 38, of June 3, 3 p.m., I have the honor to report that immediately upon receipt of this telegram, I conferred with President Ubico regarding its subject matter.

The President vigorously assented when I mentioned the dangers of the present situation, and reminded me that before the Buenos [Page 111]Aires Conference he had proposed a treaty which would have provided that any aggression against an American nation would be considered a danger by all and would be resisted by all with all their resources. He immediately approved the suggestion that there be military and naval consultations, and reiterated this when I specifically requested a confirmation.

The President suggested that the officers sent for the consultations come here at the time of the June thirtieth celebrations. In as much as an important flight of Army planes is to be here at that time, the presence of additional officers would not be noted and the significance of their visit would not be appreciated by the public. I mentioned that General Brett had expressed the intention of coming to Guatemala with a Flying Fortress at that time and that it might be possible for these officers to come with him.

The President then spoke of the necessity of supplying arms and equipment to the economically weak Latin American nations. He said that the United States was now arming itself, but that this would not suffice for the defense of the Hemisphere. A quick aggression, he pointed out, might enable the Germans to seize possession of Guatemala or another country before effective aid could be furnished by the United States and, he asserted, it would be much easier to repel a German attack than it would be to drive German forces out of the country once they had established themselves. He said that he wished to have equipment for one hundred and fifty thousand men but that at the moment he had equipment for not more than forty thousand. He mentioned thirty thousand Mauser rifles as the principal item in this equipment and added that his artillery was antiquated. He also spoke of the desirability of having a couple of U. S. pursuit planes always on hand in Guatemala in order that Guatemalan pilots might have training in their use.

The President discussed at some length the world political situation. He said that Norway, Belgium and Holland had made a bad mistake in awaiting the German attack, when they knew that they were bound eventually to be attacked, and that their intervention earlier might have been decisive. He felt that England and France should have demanded to know immediately where these countries stood: if they were for the Allies, then appropriate aid should have been extended at once; if against, then England and France “would have known what to do”. The same rule, he said, applied to the Americas; the United States should ask every American Republic whether it stood with or against the United States; if the former, it should be equipped and aided; if the latter, it should be crushed. He added that two simple rules should guide the policy of the Americas; one, that the [Page 112]Americas would not attack anyone; two, that they would act as a unit to repel any aggression against any of them.

The President mentioned that he had given orders that the press bulletin issued daily by the German Legation should not be distributed through the mails except to Germans, who, he said, had the right to receive communications from their own diplomatic representative. The German Legation, he added, is apparently very annoyed about this, and had made inquiries at the Post Office, so he anticipated a German protest. He said that he had told the Post Office authorities to intimate that they knew nothing about it and, if pressed, to answer that the German Legation had no right to distribute information except to Germans, if it disturbed Guatemalan public opinion, as the dissemination of this bulletin was in fact doing. He concluded by stating that he had an order in his desk ready for issuance at the proper moment, stating that anybody whose activities disturbed the independence or security of the State would be immediately shot.

The President’s remarks about the distribution of the press bulletin of the German Legation were implicitly confirmed by the bulletin of May 31, which spoke of irregularities in their distribution and asked for information from anyone failing to receive it.

Respectfully yours,

Fay Allen Des Portes